Minister Defends Priti Patel After Her Own Staff Reportedly Call Her 'A Moron'

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Paul Scully defended Priti Patel on Sky News (Photo: Getty/Sky News)
Paul Scully defended Priti Patel on Sky News (Photo: Getty/Sky News)

Small business minister Paul Scully had to defend Priti Patel during a broadcast interview after reports in the Sunday newspapers claimed her own staff had dubbed her a “moron”.

One anonymous civil servant told the Mail on Sunday: “She comes into meetings and her suggestions are erratic and outlandish.

“Officials come out of the meetings and the texts start flying, describing her as a ‘moron’ and an ‘idiot’.”

This briefing row was triggered by the extensive scrutiny the home office is facing after failing to prevent the thousands of migrants crossing the Channel into the UK recently.

Watch: Priti Patel accuses Labour of standing up for "unlimited migration"

Patel tried to put the internal row to bed by releasing a statement on Sunday night saying the criticisms would not distract from “building a department able to rise to the challenges of today and tomorrow”.

But speaking on Sky News on Monday morning, Burley asked the small business minister: “Priti Patel’s colleagues said at the weekend that she’s a ‘moron’. Why is she not?”

Scully looked taken aback and said: “I beg your pardon?”

Burley repeated her question and explained that the comment came from Patel’s civil servants.

Scully said: “That’s speculation, I’m really not going to get involved. I just don’t think name-calling is particularly handy.

“Priti is a an effective home office minister who is tackling any number of...”

Burley butted in: “More than that, she’s home office secretary and her civil servants think she’s a moron.

“Goodness me! Actually coming out and saying that, there must be some disquiet in the ranks there.”

Scully frowned and said: “You’ve cited maybe one person speculatively, I’ve got no idea...how aggrieved they are, what the motivation behind that [might be].”

“Priti Patel is doing an incredibly difficult job.”

“Not very successfully at the moment,” the Sky News presenter claimed as she pointed out that approximately 24,700 migrants have come over to the UK this year so far.

Numbers have now reached a record high, with at least 853 people travelling across on Wednesday November 3, despite the plummeting temperatures.

The minister again defended Patel and shifted the blame onto the French forces letting the migrants through.

He said: ″Yeah, because we’ve made an agreement with France which is unfortunately not being implemented well enough at the moment.”

“Two years she’s been home secretary,” Burley reminded him.

But Scully noted that “you can’t change the law overnight”.

This row between the civil servants and the home secretary came after Patel allegedly considering sending a letter to the cabinet secretary criticising her own staff’s work on the migrant issue.

While it was never sent, civil servants allegedly heard about it and so have publicly hit out at the home secretary.

Other sources told the Mail on Sunday: “What’s become clear is that she [Patel] is out for herself and only interested in how this plays out publicly.

“If we worked collaboratively then we could get things done but instead we just have cloud cuckoo land public statements.”

Another said: “She hates us and we all hate her.”

Watch: UK 'actively pursuing' returns agreement with France on migrant crossings, Home Secretary Priti Patel tells MPs

After these quotes were published on Sunday, the home secretary released a conciliatory statement in partnership with her permanent secretary which read: “We are both hugely grateful for the hard work of the thousands of public servants who work to [keep our country safe] every single day.

“While personal and anonymous attacks are regrettable and a very unfortunate part of public life, as joint leaders of the home office we will not let them distract from building a department able to rise to the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

Patel was also investigated and found to have breached the ministerial code by bullying her staff last year, but Boris Johnson stepped in to defend her and said the home secretary had done nothing wrong.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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